Category Archives: Digital

Digital Sometimes


Adora Octopus by Meg Lyman


for the Adora Art Project

When I have a commission for a digital end product, I ponder the pros and cons of illustrating digitally. I truly love painting and will avoid digital work like the plague, despite the fact that it’s cheaper and faster. In this case, the commission was for a website, so painted traditionally or digitally, the only thing the client needed was a .jpg. In other cases, like logo design, the product must be digital. Sometimes in these instances, even when I have the choice, I’ll pick traditional painting and scan it in. In this case, I didn’t have much time to finish it, and the subject wasn’t too complicated or serious (like I do anything serious), so I gave the digital painting a shot. It sure was quicker, and fun… but not nearly as fun as pushing paint around.

If illustration is your gig, digital painting give you a huge advantage. I just like getting paint under my fingernails too much to switch.

Zodiac Love 2


Another quick digital sketch, companion to this one. Tried to increase the contrast, but also had a fun time exploring complimentary colors + opacity to create the shadows.

I am in crazy con preparation mode again. Anthrocon is next weekend! I have all my “preorders” done, meaning people who ordered small commissions to pick up at the convention. All I need to do now is pick out art show pieces and pack.

I have several step-by-step posts to show you in the near future. I have this “small character commission with no background” thing down to a science.

Zodiac Love


Just a quick digital sketch. I love the opacity features of digital and how you can explore any color without mixing, but I often forget to utilize contrast to its fullest digital extent. Oh well, next time!

Digital Octopus


Digital art is difficult for me. I admit I do have have a tablet, which is way waaaaaaay better than a mouse, for both art and everything else computery. However… I can’t seem to get the lines I want from the stylus to the screen. It’s so frustrating. Holding the stylus is no different than holding a pen or brush. So what’s the deal?

There are two things, I think, that mess me up: 1. Not having direct feedback and 2. Size difference.

1. No direct feedback. I don’t mean that there’s no “pushback” from the pen – I know some people have problems with that, but the lack of texture on the tablet surface doesn’t bother me. I mean visual feedback. I can’t see the lines I’m drawing under my stylus; I have to watch the screen instead of my pen to see what I’m doing. It’s tougher to adjust your stroke when you can’t see where you are in relation to where you’ve been. However, this is not nearly as big an obstacle as…

2. Size does matter. The size of the tablet is fixed. Each corner of the tablet has a corresponding corner on the screen. The screen is a different size than the tablet. And the drawing area can be zoomed to any size within the screen.

It’s kinda hard to explain. Let’s say I want to draw a vertical line 500 pixels long. I have my “e-canvas” zoomed so all of it fits nicely on my screen. With my screen configured this way, that 500-pixel line will be, say, 5 inches long on the screen. My screen is 10 inches tall, so the line is half the screen. That means I’ll have to move my stylus half of the vertical height of my tablet… which is 6 inches tall. So I’m moving my stylus 3 inches to draw a line that is 5 inches tall on the screen.

And by changing the zoom level of my e-canvas, that 500-pixel line can become, say, 2.5  or 10 inches tall. Confusing, I know… but the bottom line is that  moving my stylus 3 inches and getting 5 inches on the screen really messes with my spacial reasoning.

Then I try to add curves… and tentacles and eyes… See my dilemma?

Digital Sketchy

Sometimes you just feel like putting the pencil to the paper to see what comes out. And sometimes you feel like doing it digitally, because you’re already sitting at your computer and your sketchbook is out of reach and your pencil is waaaay over in the other room… and why make all that effort when your tablet is right in front of you? Even if you don’t know how to use it very well. It’s a learning experience!

Art and Music

Music Fish

Music is a big part of life. It is pervasive – almost everywhere we go, we hear it pumping through speakers. Whenever I drive, the music is on. Whenever I’m at home, the music is on. Whenever I’m doing art, the music is on. But unlike other activities, I pay special attention to art music. Do you?

First of all, art is one of the few activities I do that makes me lose track of time. I’ll sit for hours, painting or drawing. I’ll forget to take a drink of my beer, forget that my butt has gone numb, and forget that I was supposed to change the laundry 3 hours ago. But I’ll notice if the music stops. It’ll interrupt even the most intense session. So, I do my best to avoid having to change music during art. Streaming radio, CDs, or hard drives full of MP3s are good for that.

Second, if a song comes on that doesn’t fit my mood, it’ll distract me. That’s the drawback to streaming radio. You can pick a genre, but sometimes you’ll get a song you just don’t like. Then you’re jumping up to change the station every half hour, and that’s not conducive to concentration… plus it’s as annoying as having to flip channels to avoid watching ads. (I’m not the only one who does that… right?)

And finally, music can be so emotionally powerful. A song can fill you with joy, longing, sadness, or despair. You can find a song for any mood, and any painting. Have you ever felt inspired to paint something because of a song? Or have you had ideas rolling around in your head for ages, when all of a sudden, a song comes on… and now you just HAVE to paint that idea?

It’s hard to plan for the moods you’ll be in or moods of the paintings you want to do, but I have a system – I get a good collection of songs for that day set up on my MP3 player, hit “shuffle,” and press play. I make sure the volume knob is handy in case I want to crank something. The emotions associated with music are some of the most powerful feelings I’ve had. They’re up there with beautiful scenery, nature, and being with the people I love. Now if only I could take a vacation with those folks to somewhere isolated with impressive scenery and listen to music while painting… wow.

Post a link to a song that inspires you. Share it with us!

Here’s one of mine. [link]

Also, do fish actually have ears?